Poems That Make Grown Men Cry: 100 Men on the Words That Move Them
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A life-enhancing tour through classic and contemporary poems that have made men cry: “The Holdens remind us that you don’t have to be an academic or a postgraduate in creative writing to be moved by verse….It’s plain fun” (The Wall Street Journal).
Grown men aren’t supposed to cry…Yet in this fascinating anthology, one hundred men—distinguished in literature and film, science and architecture, theater and human rights—confess to being moved to tears by poems that continue to haunt them. Although the majority are public figures not prone to crying, here they admit to breaking down, often in words as powerful as the poems themselves.
Their selections include classics by visionaries, such as Walt Whitman, W.H. Auden, and Philip Larkin, as well as modern works by masters, including Billy Collins, Seamus Heaney, Derek Walcott, and poets who span the globe from Pablo Neruda to Rabindranath Tagore. The poems chosen range from the sixteenth century to the twenty-first, with more than a dozen by women, including Mary Oliver, Elizabeth Bishop, and Gwendolyn Brooks. Their themes range from love in its many guises, through mortality and loss, to the beauty and variety of nature. All are moved to tears by the exquisite way a poet captures, in Alexander Pope’s famous phrase, “what oft was thought, but ne’er so well express’d.”
From J.J. Abrams to John le Carré, Salman Rushdie to Jonathan Franzen, Daniel Radcliffe to Nick Cave to Stephen Fry, Stanley Tucci to Colin Firth to the late Christopher Hitchens, this collection delivers private insight into the souls of men whose writing, acting, and thinking are admired around the world. “Everyone who reads this collection will be roused: disturbed by the pain, exalted in the zest for joy given by poets” (Nadine Gordimer, winner of the Nobel Prize for literature).
‘Pity should begin at home.’ So the more pity I felt, the more I felt at home. The sun set in the sea; the same odd sun rose from the sea, and there was one of it and one of me. The island had one kind of everything: one tree snail, a bright violet-blue with a thin shell, crept over everything, over the one variety of tree, a sooty, scrub affair. Snail shells lay under these in drifts and, at a distance, you’d swear that they were beds of irises. There was one kind of berry, a dark
children and won two BAFTAs. His best-selling novel, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time (2003), won seventeen literary prizes, including the Whitbread Award, and was staged by the National Theatre. His subsequent publications include a poetry collection, The Talking Horse and the Sad Girl and the Village Under the Sea (2005). His most recent novel is The Red House (2012). In Blackwater Woods MARY OLIVER (1935– ) MARC FORSTER The first thing I did after reading this poem for the
wind Perhaps one day The sun will become a withered wreath To hand before The growing forest of gravestones Of each unsubmitting fighter Black crows the night’s tatters Flock thick around (1986) TRANSLATION BY BONNIE S. MCDOUGALL Wuer Kaixi (b. 1968) was the Chinese student of Uyghur ethnicity who led the human rights protests in Tiananmen Square in 1989. After publicly confronting Premier Li Peng on national television, he was put on China’s ‘most wanted’ list and fled through Hong
eternity. Polvo seremos, mas polvo enamorado. Angélica and I will be dust but dust in love. How can I not cry with joy for myself, for her, for all of us on this earth that will itself turn to dust, ashes to ashes, yes, but ashes in love. JAVIER MARÍAS As we grow older, perhaps what saddens us most about the prospect of death – and, oddly enough, what strikes us as most melancholy and unbearable too – is not that we will cease to live and have no more future, that is, no more knowledge,
to her now, is a smaller gift – not the worn truth that you can never repay your mother, but the rueful admission that when she took the two-tone lanyard from my hand, I was as sure as a boy could be that this useless, worthless thing I wove out of boredom would be enough to make us even. (2005) J. J. Abrams (b. 1966) is the director of the feature films Mission: Impossible III (2006), Star Trek (2009), Super 8 (2011), which he also wrote, and Star Trek Into Darkness (2013). His next